Broccoli: No steps toward selecting new Bond

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

Barbara Broccoli spoke to The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast in an episode posted this week. The Eon Productions boss celebrated Daniel Craig’s long run as James Bond and again said she’s not in a hurry to pick his sucessor.

“To be honest, we’re not looking right now. We’re not in the conversation right now,” she said toward the end of a 30-minute interview. “We are living in the present moment and it’s a joyful moment, it’s a celebratory moment. We’re celebrating Daniel’s extraordinary achievement over 16 years.”

“We want to live in this moment for as long as possible and really applaud Daniel and really enjoy it. At some point later, we’ll sit down and think about the future. Right now, I want to live in the present and it’s a very happy place to be right now.”

The podcast also featured an interview with Craig of about an hour.

No Time to Die was released last year following five delays, three related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 25th Bond film made by Eon had a global theatrical run of $774 million and is now available on home video.

Bond’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, last year agreed to be acquired by Amazon for $8.45 billion. That deal hasn’t closed yet. It’s uncertain whether Amazon will make major changes at MGM. Broccoli has repeatedly said she’s not interested in streaming show spinoffs related to Bond.

Bond questions: The New Year edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Happy New Year! You would think things would be quiet on the James Bond front at least in early 2022. But there are signs things might not be that quiet.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What’s the top priority for the Bond film franchise?

Seeing whether Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is completed.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions. have been lobbying on behalf of two current MGM film executives, Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy. The fate of De Luca and Abdy likely won’t be known until Amazon finishes the deal.

What’s more, the Eon duo has repeatedly said they’re not interested in Bond streaming spinoffs.

Former Bond Daniel Craig joined in the public lobbying via an interview with The Sun.

Once Amazon takes possession of MGM, we go from hypothetical to the very real. Amazon runs Amazon Prime, one of the leading streaming services. It also has Amazon Studios. Does Amazon merge MGM into Amazon Studios? Or does Amazon maintain MGM as a separate operation like Marvel and Pixar at Walt Disney Co.?

Finally, the search for a new actor to replace Daniel Craig can’t really get very far until the issues above are addressed.

What happens if regulators don’t permit the Amazon acquisition to go through?

MGM possibly goes into crisis mode. Bond’s home studio had been working toward a sale for years. For MGM, everything goes back to square one. That type of uncertainty isn’t good for the orderly development of Bond 26.

What happens if the Amazon deal gets completed?

Wilson and Broccoli familiarize themselves, yet again, with a new set of executives. Eon has done this for 40 years, ever since MGM acquired United Artists, Bond’s original studio.

Much of the public lobbying Wilson and Broccoli have done is laying the groundwork for subsequent behind-closed-doors meetings. That’s where many issues will be hashed out.

Things like the 60th anniversary of the Bond film franchise will probably have to wait.

Broccoli & Wilson say (yet again) no Bond spinoffs

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions have, yet again, said they’re not interested in television spinoffs of the James Bond film franchise.

The half-siblings spoke to the entertainment news website, The Wrap.

“From our point of view, we try to focus on making good James Bond pictures and that takes a lot of time and thought — it takes a couple of years working on the script with a director,” Wilson told The Wrap. “If we had to make a TV series on top of that and put that same amount of energy into 10 or 20 hours of content, that’s a big commitment. So, we’d have to delegate. And we’ve been very reluctant to delegate.”

“We’re not a factory,” Barbara Broccoli told the website. “Our movies are all hand-made. We’ve always been a family business and it will remain a family business, so long as we keep breathing.”

Eon previously was involved with the syndicated cartoon series James Bond Jr. in the 1990s. Wilson shared a “developed by” credit on that show. The cartoon featured Bond’s nephew who encountered classic Bond villains as well as new adversaries. It was produced during the 1989-1995 hiatus in Eon’s film series.

The home studio of the Bond series is Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It has agreed to be acquired by Amazon for $8.45 billion. The deal still is under regulatory review.

Bond 25 questions: What’s up with the U.S.?

No Time to Die poster

No Time to Die is the No. 1 box office movie among non-Chinese-made films. Happy days are here again, right? Well, there may be one nagging concern, the (relative) gap between international and the U.S.

The U.S., even with China emerging as the world’s largest market, remains a pretty big market for movies. Yet, relatively speaking, James Bond’s support in Britain’s former colonies appears to be eroding.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What do you mean by eroding support?

Here is are the figures during the Daniel Craig era, according to Box Office Mojo:

Casino Royale, $167.4 million, 27.2 percent of the global total

Quantum of Solace, $168.4 million, 28.6 percent of the global total

Skyfall, $304.4 million, 27.5 percent of the global total

SPECTRE, $200.1 million, 22.7 percent of the global total

No Time to Die, $158.1 million, 20.9 percent of the global total.

So?

Some British fans attribute that to Brits having better taste than Americans. These same fans dismiss the importance of the American market at all.

Are you being serious?

Mostly not (though such fans as described above do exist). Rather, it raises the question whether there should be more changes for U.S. Bond marketing versus international Bond marketing.

With No Time to Time, U.S. trailers were different than international trailers. But is that enough?

Remember, Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions said in 2015 that Eon controls the marketing and that studios just execute that plan.

If anybody at Eon is disappointed with the U.S. box office — and no one has said so publicly — they should perhaps look in the mirror.

Anything else?

For better or worse, the U.S. market likes superhero movies more than international markets The No. 1 U.S. movie in 2021 is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at $224.6 million. It’s based on a lesser-known Marvel Comics title from the 1970s.

Still, $158.1 million in the U.S. for No Time to Die, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, is nothing to sneeze at and not a flop. Many movies would love that size of box office.

Going forward, though, Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Amazon (which has agreed to buy MGM) may want to ponder Bond’s position in the U.S.

Bond 25 questions: No Time to Die’s box office crown

One of the many No Time to Die posters

Sometime soon, No Time to Die is expected will pass F9: The Fast Saga as the No. 1 Hollywood box office movie of 2021. Naturally, the blog has questions.

What do you mean “Hollywood” movie?

From the very beginning, Bond movies were financed by Hollywood studios. United Artists secured a loan from BANK OF AMERICA (a U.S. company) that supplied most of the money. It has never changed since.

Wait, what?

Yes, even though the movies were made in the U.K., the U.S. supplied the money. Without the likes of Arthur Krim, Robert Benjamin and David V. Picker at United Artists, Bond would never have gotten off the ground.

But I thought Eon did everything!

That’s a comforting myth that many Bond fans have adopted. In reality, Eon plays with others’ money.

OK, but doesn’t product placement finance *everything*?

No. That’s another comforting myth among Bond fans.

What are you saying?

REPEAT: James Bond’s ownership is blurred. Creatively, it is controlled by Danjaq/Eon while Bond’s home studio is MGM. It’s an uneasy partnership. MGM can’t go forward without Danjaq/Eon while Danjaq/Eon can’t launch a Bond movie without MGM.

What are you trying to say?

MGM and Danjaq/MGM are in an uneasy partnership. MGM has agreed to be acquired by Amazon. Maybe that will create new opportunities.

Still?

Until Amazon gets full control of MGM (that deal still is subject to regulatory review), we don’t really know.

Bond 26, etc.: The real question going forward

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

A Forbes.com article out today says that James Bond still is popular and relevant. That really isn’t the correct question.

The real question is whether the series can continue to grind out new entries at $300 million a pop.

There is certainly a market for James Bond films. Even if the audience is aging, fans turn out for Bond. But at what price?

In 2012, there was a market for a movie featuring John Carter (another character from the creator of Tarzan). But not one that cost $200 million or more to make. Walt Disney Co. had to report a big charge against earnings.

In 2013, there was a market for a Lone Ranger movie (even a Tonto-centric one). But not one that cost $240 million to make. With the Lone Ranger, the special effects budget should have mostly been for squibs to simulate gun shots. But the makers of the movie went way beyond that.

Back in the day, Cleopatra (1963) was a very popular film. Financially, not so much. As big as the audience was, 20th Century Fox couldn’t earn a profit on its theatrical release.

I’ve seen some fans say they have no personal stake in how No Time to Die does at the box office. So it doesn’t matter to them.

Maybe so. With No Time to Die, it’s doing better in the U.K. and Europe than in the U.S. The final numbers remain to be seen. But spending $300 million (or so) makes it harder to earn a profit.

The question facing Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the studio’s future owner, Amazon (assuming Amazon’s planned acquisition of MGM gets regulatory approval) is whether it’s time rethink and re-evaluate Bond film budgets.

Presumably, Bond 26’s leading man won’t be paid $25 million (Daniel Craig’s reported salary for No Time to Die). Perhaps Eon’s Barbara Broccoli will remember how her father did business and negotiate harder than she did with Craig. Presumably Bond 26 won’t have pandemic-related delays that added to the tab.

Perhaps. Presumably. We’ll see.

Bond 26 questions: The (eventual) search for a new Bond

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions were interviewed on a BBC Radio show on Sept. 27. The duo indicated they weren’t in a hurry to find a successor for Daniel Craig as James Bond.

“We’re not thinking about it at all,” Broccoli said, according to a Variety summary of the interview. “We want Daniel to have his time of celebration. Next year we’ll start thinking about the future.”

Naturally, the blog has questions.

How seriously should we take these remarks?

In general, a CEO always is supposed to be thinking about the future. Barbara Broccoli certainly qualifies as a CEO.

On the one hand, there are signs that Broccoli has at least thought about a post-Craig future for Eon’s Bond film series.

No Time To Die director Cary Fukunaga told Total Film that he had a meeting with Broccoli before he was named to helm the 25th James Bond film.

“At that point Daniel said he wasn’t doing another one, so we spit-balled all the potential new Bonds – that was exciting,” Fukunaga said in that interview.

On the other hand, there are signs that Broccoli is really, really reluctant to let go of Craig. “I’m sort of in denial,” she said in the BBC interview. “I would love for Daniel to continue forever.”

Personally, I take her at her word. She is not anxious to move on from Craig.

Will the search (whenever it starts) be complicated?

Searching for a Bond actor is never easy. The next search will have additional complications.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, has agreed to be acquired by Amazon. But that deal hasn’t been completed and is subject to regulatory review.

It remains to be seen what Amazon will do with MGM assuming the deal goes through. Eon likes some current MGM film executives and has lobbied for Amazon to keep them on board.

Regardless, assuming Amazon completes the deal, that will be an additional piece of complication.

What’s more, Eon has its own issues. Wilson turns 80 next year. There are popular fan theories that he may retire after No Time to Die. Who knows whether that’ll be the case. Still a new Bond isn’t the only succession issue facing Eon.

Broccoli, Wilson discuss Bond’s future (a bit)

No Time to Die logo

The Sunday Times, one of press baron Rupert Murdoch’s “respectable” publications (as opposed to his tabloids), published a big story about the saga of No Time to Die. Also, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson talk a bit about the future of the cinematic James Bond.

Wilson, 79, told the newspaper that the way star Daniel Craig has played the part of Bond since 2006’s Casino Royale may carry over in the future.

“Daniel’s made an indelible impression,” Wilson told The Sunday Times. “So it’s inevitable that what he brought will be, in some way, incorporated.”

At the same time, both Wilson and his half-sibling, 61, left themselves some wiggle room.

Concerning potential future Bond actors, Wilson added: “We don’t have any frontrunners — we haven’t even thought about it — but whoever it is will take on the role and adapt the character to their personality. It’s always been the case.”

Here was Broccoli’s take:

“It’s a big decision for us because we’re entering into a partnership with an actor,” the Eon boss told The Sunday Times.

“It’s not like casting a movie when you find the best actor at the time — it’s about resetting the whole template for the movies to come. So it’s not just about what colour hair an actor has and if they fit a certain type — it’s about where you want to take the movies and what you want to say. And we have to make that decision. We’re not going to make it based on polls.”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, has agreed to be acquired by Amazon. Broccoli avoided specifics how that $8.45 billion deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, could affect Bond’s future.

 “The truth is we don’t know,” Broccoli told The Sunday Times. “Until the deal is approved and we are able to get into deep discussions with them we don’t know. At the moment we’re not really any more enlightened about what they want to do and how they see things and how we fit in.”

The article goes over a lot of No Time to Die history many fans are familiar with. For example, the Danny Boyle saga, his departure as director, the hiring of Cary Fukunaga as Boyle’s replacement as director and the uncertainty, for a time, whether Craig would come back for a fifth Bond film. Craig also has a number of quotes where he had f-bombs in his quotes, but they’re cleaned up.

The Sunday Times piece also is full of Bond-related puns such as sub-headlines that read “Never Say Never — Again!” “Doctor Oh No,” “From China with Love,” and “Die? Another Day.”

The story is behind a paywall except for a short preview.

‘Intrigue’ at Amazon, MGM over NYT article, newsletter says

MGM logo

A New York Times story on July 6 has created “intrigue” at Amazon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, according to a newsletter by a former editor at The Hollywood Reporter.

The article about MGM film chiefs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy generated some “serious eye-rolling at Amazon Studios this week,” wrote Matthew Belloni.

De Luca runs MGM’s film division and Abdy is his deputy. An excerpt from the newsletter:

I’m told Amazon’s famously press-averse executives were “concerned” about the story, mostly because De Luca and Abdy focused on MGM’s theatrical release plans and their strategy of “original ideas and original authorship,” possibly leaving the impression that there will be internal conflict with what Jeff Bezos cited as the primary reason for buying MGM: To “reimagine and redevelop” the studio’s existing I.P. The story also suggested the town might be rooting for De Luca to wrest control of Amazon’s film output from Jen Salke, the current head of Amazon Studios. 

Amazon last month agreed to acquire MGM for $8.45 billion. But the deal is subject to regulatory approval, a process that may take months.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, in a statement to the Times made clear they’re rooting for De Luca and Abdy.

Referring to Amazon, they said in the statement: “Our hope is that they will empower Mike and Pam to continue to run MGM unencumbered,” MGM is James Bond’s home studio. Eon controls creative matters with Bond while MGM finances the films.

Belloni’s newsletter said the Times story didn’t go over well with Amazon.

“Amazon and the tech companies that run Hollywood these days absolutely hate this posturing crap,” Belloni wrote. MGM and De Luca declined to comment to the newsletter.

No Time to Die, Eon’s 25th James Bond film, is scheduled to be released Sept. 30 in the U.K. and Oct. 8 in the U.S. The Amazon acquisition isn’t likely to be completed before then.

Bond 26 questions: The ‘next iteration’ edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

No Time to Die still isn’t out but there has been some news related to Bond 26. Naturally, the blog has questions.

What do you make of recent Broccoli-Wilson comments?

In a July 6 story in The New York Times, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions spoke up in support of two current Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film executives.

“Mike and Pam understand that we are at a critical juncture and that the continuing success of the James Bond series is dependent on us getting the next iteration right and will give us the support we need to do this,” the Eon duo said in a statement of Michael De Luca, chairman of MGM’s Motion PIcture Group, and his deputy, Pamela Abdy. (emphasis added)

Until late September 2020, Broccoli wouldn’t publicly acknowledge that No Time to Die would be Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie. ““It is the fifth and final one that Daniel Craig is going to be doing,” Broccoli said on an episode of the official No Time to Die podcast that would soon go into hiatus because the movie got delayed.

Evidently, Eon likes how De Luca and Abdy are managing MGM’s film unit. But their future is uncertain with Amazon’s pending $8.45 billion acquisition of James Bond’s home studio.

Eon controls creative matters related to the cinema Bond. The Broccoli-Wilson statement looks like a strong suggestion to Amazon to not shake up MGM’s film operation when the Bond franchise is on the verge of another transition and yet another new film Bond.

Did the list of possible new film Bond actors just go down by one?

Over the past few years, entertainment outlets and websites have speculated about who might take over Craig’s shoulder holster. One name that comes up a lot is British actor Henry Cavill.

However, this week, it came out that Cavill will be in a new Matthew Vaughn-directed spy film, Argylle.

Once upon a time, when Cavill was in his early 20s, he tested for Bond. He came in behind Craig.

Since then, Cavill’s ability to anchor film franchises has been a so-so affair. He was in one solo Superman movie and appeared as the Man of Steel in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. But his future as Superman looks dicey. Cavill starred in 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but that movie didn’t resonate with audiences and no additional U.N.C.L.E. films followed.

Cavill was a supporting player in a Mission: Impossible movie and has starred in a popular streaming show, The Witcher.

The actor is now 38, the same age Craig was when he was cast as Bond. But Cavill’s chances of being cast as Bond may be running out — assuming he ever had a chance in the first place. Would Eon want to cast a Bond actor who has been in two different spy movies? I wouldn’t go banco on that.